Friday, 27 May 2011

End of season review

There is no review. Because I can't see the final points.

For what its worth, I'm glad Deportivo went down. They were one of the most boring sides this year and Zaragoza earnt their reprieve with their late run of form.

I wanted to do a Barca v Man Utd preview based on season's stats but I can only imagine.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

La Liga: The final day - Relegation and Europa Cup battles

The final weekend of La Liga. What is left to play for? Everything has been decided apart from the final relegation place. The top four cannot change position and the Europa Cup competitors are all in place.

In fantasy terms, the best I can hope for is improving on my position of 34th in Fans of Almeria. What I've done today, is use the statistical model to predict the results of the final round of La Liga games, and in turn find out who is going down.

The current La Liga standings:

  • League position cannot change
  • Nothing but pride to play for
  • Could be relegated
  • Europa Cup
So, there are 6 teams battling to avoid that last relegation spot and three teams fighting trying to avoid going through the qualification rounds of the Europa Cup. Exciting stuff!

Here are the final day fixtures with the mathematically predicted scores:

Málaga CF 0 - 2 FC Barcelona
Racing Santander 1 - 1 Athletic Bilbao
Hércules CF 1 - 0 Sporting Gijón
Real Madrid 5 - 0 UD Almería
Osasuna 1 - 0 Villarreal CF
Real Sociedad 1 - 0 Getafe CF
RCD Espanyol 1 - 0 Sevilla FC
Levante UD 1 - 0 Real Zaragoza
RCD Mallorca 1 - 1 Atlético Madrid
Deportivo La Coruña 0 - 1 Valencia CF

Please bare in mind we cannot factor in that extra drop of mayhem that can unbalance normal proceedings on the final day of the season. Working through the list, in order of importance: which of these results feels right?

Levante 1-0 Zaragoza

The most important game of the day. In short, if Zaragoza lose, no other results matter in the relegation fight. A home win feels like a fair prediction. Levante have had an excellent 2nd half of the season, but Zaragoza have defeated Real Madrid and Valencia in recent weeks. I expect more goals from both sides but, with a 49% weighting for the home win, I allow Spiegel to convince me that Levante will prevail but there will surely be more than one goal in the match.

Pick: L - Caicedo, Valdo, RZ - Gabi

Real Sociedad 1-0 Getafe

A real hum-dinger. Both sides can go down if Zaragoza win and Depor get a point. A Sociedad home win is one of the top predictions with 51%. I'm happy with that. Again, I might expect more goals from two sides fighting for their lives. Even if Getafe lose, Parejo and Rios should both do well.

Pick: RS - Xabi Prieto, Griezmann; G - Parejo, Rios.

Osasuna 1-0 Villarreal

This feels right. If anything, Osasuna will score more. The Yellow Submarines have nothing to play for and seem to have left for their holidays weeks ago while Osasuna have been in top form, especially at home. Osasuna are pretty much guaranteed safety and can only go down if they concede about 10 goals and Zaragoza, Deportivo and Getafe win.

Pick: O - Ricardo, Camunas, Cejudo, Sola, any defenders

Deportivo 0-1 Valencia

This is one I feel less convinced about. Spiegel makes Los Che heavy favourites but they, like Villarreal, have nothing to play for. Deportivo have found it hard to get excited this season, but they may just get up for this one and upset the prediction. Anything other than a win leaves them vulnerable to the drop.

Pick: D - Adrian; V - Soldado

RCD Mallorca 1 - 1 Atlético Madrid

Both sides are stumbling towards the finish line. Atletico are playing Europa Cup football again. The only issue they have to worry about is avoiding the ignominy of having to go through the qualifying rounds if they come 7th. That tedium will certainly be on players' minds. Both sides don't really need to do a lot to be ok so a point each seems highly likely.

Pick: M - Webo, Nuse, De Guzman; AM - Reyes, Aguero

RCD Espanyol 1 - 0 Sevilla FC

Espanyol have done their best to remove themselves from contention for Europa Cup qualification. Sevilla need a win to avoid having to qualify for the tournament. Kanoute may be a up for a flourish of a sign off. A home win or draw feels fair. Not a tempting game to punt on. Spiegel says 1-0 but I'd expect a few more goals for both sides.

Pick: E - Callejon; S - Negredo, Kanoute

Racing Santander 1 - 1 Athletic Bilbao

Both sides are in a bit of form. Racing have secured mid-table mediocrity but Bilbao need to win to guarantee a straight forward passage into Europa Cup football and may fancy it after a few years out of European competition.

Pick: AB - Muniain

Outside of these games, the sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed the massive weighting the model gives to a Real Madrid victory with 5-0 being the most likely result. Therefore, for your fantasy sides, if you are like me, you will probably be sticking in 49m Ronaldo in and then scratching around to fit in scraps around him.

Here is the final table standings as the maths would have it:

My current lineup for this weekend:


Aoute, Mallorca, 4

Galan, Espanyol, 1
Castillo, A.Bil, 1
Amorebieta, A.Bil, 1

Ozil, R.Mad, 5
Di Maria, R.Mad, 5
Granero, R.Mad, 2
Affellay, Barca, .7
Xabi Prieto, RSO, 14.5

Ronaldo, RMAD, 49
Caicedo, Lev, 12.5

Monday, 16 May 2011

Me on the Podcast!

I was fortunate to be asked to be on's podcast this week. Check it out!

Victim: jornada37 review

Oh dear, I have had a horrendous week. Once again Guardiola has made a fool of me. I blame the end of season whirlwind which throws everything out of kilter. Spiegelhalter did OK. He got three correct results but no correct scores.

Predicted scores in bold (where different)
Atlético Madrid 2 - 1 (0) Hércules CF 
Sporting Gijón 2 (1) - 1 (0) Racing Santander 
Athletic Bilbao 1(2) - 1 Málaga CF 
FC Barcelona 0 (2) - 0 Deportivo La Coruña 
Valencia CF 0 (2) - 0 Levante UD 
Real Zaragoza 1 - 0 (1) RCD Espanyol 
Sevilla FC 3 (2) - 1 Real Sociedad 
Getafe CF 2 (1) - 0 (1) Osasuna 
Villarreal CF 1 - 3 (1) Real Madrid 
UD Almería 3 (1) - 1 RCD Mallorca 

It's good to see that lots of the guys I thought would do well did. That's always reassuring:

So the top guys were:

Ronaldo, RMA, 30
Kanoute, SEV, 19.5
Perotti, SEV, 18

De las Cuevas, SPO, 22
Reyes, ATM, 19
Ponzio, RZG, 19
Rios, GET, 15

Fernandez, RAC, 14
Marcano, GET, 13.5
Marcelo, RMA, 13

Franco, RZG, 20

My team:

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Liga weekend predictions: Sunday May 15th

The predictor shows heavily favoured wins for Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bilbao, Valencia and Sevilla. The only one I'm dubious about is Bilbao who are up against in form Malaga. I know the Basque side have one of the best home records in the league but Malaga have the best form playing anywhere in the league at the moment.

Either way, it would be prudent to pick up Bilbao's bargain GK Iraizoz at 6. The only other temptation for me might be Muniain. Malaga, I don't fancy any Malaga guys. The form men, Duda and Baptista too expensive.

Barcelona will be in a party mood and it could be a question of how many at home to Depor. I'm tempted to go with Messi even though he has really slowed down in scoring. I have a feeling his teammates will be helping him score as many as poss to catch Ronaldo. Elsewhere I'm hanging on to Keita and Affellay who are still great bargains.

Valencia and A.Mad should both cruise to home wins. Valencia will want to secure that 3rd place. Soldado, Jonas and Banega tempt. For Atleti I fancy Aguero. This could well be his last home game and Hercules will be despondent following their confirmed relegation. I quite like the idea of Koke as well. Possibly Diego Costa on the cheap.

Sevilla, while heavy favourites could be upset by a Sociedad side in a bit of form and in need of points. With Negredo's price ballooning following his scoring run, there's no great value to be had with the southern side. Maybe Capel, possibly Romaric at a stretch.

Outside of the heavy favourites, i'll be staying away from Villarreal v Real Madrid as both teams have little to play for. I like the look of Almeria at home to Mallorca following their excellent 0-0 with Villarreal. GK Esteban and striker Piatti are worth a punt. Getafe need a result more than Osasuna and I expect a win with Parejo heavily involved.

My temptations:

Leo Franco, RZG, 4
Esteben, Alm, 9
Iraizoz, Bil, 6

F. Amorebieta, Bil 1.00
X. Castillo, Bil, 1.3

Affellay, Bar, 1.9
Keita, Bar, 4.8
Parejo, Getaffe, 10
Castro, Spo, 5.9
Banega, Val, 7.9
Reyes, A.Mad, 15
De Las Cuevas, Gjon, 10.4
Boutahar, RZG, 5.8
Acosta, Sev, 1.9
Capel, Sev, 7.9

Kanoute, Sev, 10
Piatti, Alm, 13
Muniain, Bil, 10
Soldado, Val, 19
Jonas, Val, 13
Getafe, Miku, 9
Aguero, A.Mad,25
Villa, Bar, 20
Messi, Bar, 36

Team of the week - midweek games:

Ronaldo, R.Madrid, 35.5
Negredo, Sevilla, 22.5
Kike Sola, 21.5

Sendoa, Hercules, 21.5
Kennedy, Racing, 18
Eliseu, Malaga, 17.5
Gabi, 16

Galan, Espanyol, 14
Luna, Almeria, 13.5
Marcelo, Real Madrid, 11.5

Esteban, Almeria, 15

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Jornada 36: La Liga predictions 10th/11th May

This week's predictions see Barcelona and Real Madrid heavy favourites as ever. The only other sides give a 50%+ chance of a win are Villarreal at Almeria and Osasuna against Sevilla. However, it is the business end of the season and the relegation threatened sides are starting to fight like mad to survive the drop, adding more unquantifiable variables to the mix. Only Almeria's demise has been decided and any two sides from 8th placed Espanyol down could still be relegated.

Apart from wins for the top 2 the only result I feel confident about is a Malaga win. Malaga majestically defied last weekend's predictions and are one of the form teams in the league and should ease past Gijon. The rest could be chaos and there should be plenty of goals. Hercules have to win. They will need big performances from Valdez, Trezeguet et al.

In summary:

Barcelona will win the league tonight.
Real will hammer Getafe out of pure fury.
Malaga will beat Gijon to all but secure safety.
Hercules will beat Mallorca to keep breathing.
Villarreal and Valencia will win.
Osasuna will beat Sevilla
Sociedad v Zaragoza, A.MAd v Racing and Deportivo v Bilbao will all be massive scraps.

It will be difficult to predict the Real lineup but at least Guadiola has said that he will not play a reserve side until they have secured the liga title.

My team this week:

My team!

More team news from Football 365

Monday, 9 May 2011

Team of the week: jornada 35

This is the best performing star XI from La Liga's games of week 35 (May 7th/8th) according to Yahoo Fantasy Football.

3-4-3 formation


Ronaldo, Real Madrid, 49
Flat-track bully takes out his frustrations on Sevilla with 4 goals in 6-2 victory

Adrian, Deportivo 26
2 goals for U21 star almost gave Deportivo a much needed win. 2-2 draw at Gijon

Negredo, Sevilla 25
2 goals as Sevilla lost 6-2 at home to Real


Gio Dos Santos, Racing Santander, 25.5 pts
Spurs loanee scores twice, moving racing 4 points clear of relegation zone and keeping Hercules in 19th. Hercules 2-3 Racing

Thiago Gomes, Hercules, 20.5 pts
A goal and assist but all in vain

Camunas, Osasuna, 18 pts
Always a surprise - goal and an assist in relegation 6 pointer 3-1 win at Zaragoza.

A. Iniesta, Barcelona, 17.5 pts
Match winning goal, as Barca ease closer to the title with 2-0 win over Espanyol. "Espanyol had not won for 111 days; practically the entire second half of the season." (Forzafutbal)


Pique, Barcelona, 15 pt
Goal against Espanyol

Mathieu, Valencia 14.5
1 assist and clean sheet in 3-0 win over Sociedad

Mane, Getafe, 13.5
1 assist and clean sheet for Getafe in 2-0 win over Almeria


Diego Lopez, Villarreal, 17 pts
Clean sheet in 0-0 draw at Mallorca

Special mentions
M.Ozil, Real Madrid, 17.5 pts
3 assists enabling Real's 6-2 rout of Sevilla. Same points as Iniesta but not as good value

Julio Baptista, Malaga, 14.5
Another goal (8 in 9 games now!!!!!) as Malaga shock Atletico Madrid 3-0.

Pedro Rios, Getafe, 14.5
U21 midfield starlet with another vital goal in Getafe's 2-0 win to lift them out of the relegation zone.

My team?

Quite pleased but got scorched by Guardiola's decision not to rotate.

Guadiola's team selection: a headache for fantasy pickers

Pep Guardiola seems to like taking the rise with fantasy football managers. Barcelona, as you might expect, are the highest scoring team in Yahoo Fantasy football: over the season, the accumluated score of their squad makes 2928pts. Their closest rivals are natually Real Madrid with 2754.5 pts. One would imagine that shoehorning as many Barca players into your line-up would be a sensible tactic for any fantasy manager, but alas, the champions elect keep upsetting me. David Villa has 2 goals in 10 games, Xavi hardly ever breaks 10 pts, Messi's value is always 40+, and with the recent fixture congestion, its almost impossible to predict the damn lineup as Pep rotates his boys to ensure freshness.

With an 5 pt lead and a game in hand, (with 3 to play) before Sunday night's fixture against Espanyol, Barca had to all intents and purposes won La Liga. One might expect that going into last nights home derby, Pep might have given a rest to the stars that secured passage to the Champions League final on Tuesday. You'd be given further reason for believing this given that throughout April, the team was heavily rotated with the likes of Jeffren, Pinto, Milito, Keita, Thiago, Affellay, and Fontas featuring frequently in the Liga matches. Even more weight is thrown behind this theory when you consider that Espanyol are on a horrible run of form and never beat Barcelona. So surely, these fringe names would feature in the gimme home game on Sunday?

But no, apart from perhaps the inclusion of Fontas and the absence of Puyol, he goes and names 9 of his strongest line-up; that which we will surely see against Man Utd. You might say to me, Pep could not risk increasing the pressure on himself and his team with another blip after last week's shock loss to Sociedad. you might say, he needs to play his strongest 11 to keep them sharp for the CL final.

Having picked Pinto, Affellay and Jeffren for my side this weekend, I prefer to think he has it in for fantasy football managers. Maybe it has something to do with Jose Mourinho's professed enjoyment of the Fantasy Football game, maybe Pep doesn't have time for such frivolity, but for my money, he's clearly out to undermine my fantasy football selections. Only Affellay got any game time. He got me 1 point.

Friday, 6 May 2011

La Liga: Predictions week 35

Week 35 Predictions
This weeks predictions according to Spiegelhalter see heavily favoured wins for Barcelona (89%), Atletico Madrid (72%), Valencia (69%), Atletico Bilbao (59%) and Real Madrid (58%).

Of course, Spiegelhalter does not take into account the factors that influence a catalunian derby but a heavy defeat for Espanyol looks on the cards either way. Barca will be expected to rest their big guns as per last week so it seems prudent to stick with Affellay and go for outsiders such as Thiago and Jeffren again. We should at least get goals.

Atletico Madrid are in hot, hot form and Spiegelhalter only backs up what we all know to expect from their tie with Malaga: goals. This game should yield lots of goals, whatever the result with Malaga also scoring freely in recent games. Sticking with the likes of Aguero and Reyes appears safe but it could be a worthy gamble to take a punt on Forlan or Diego Costa.

Valencia will surely get back to winning ways at home to Sociedad even if the Basques scored that shocker over Real last week. Jonas feels like a good pick.

Meanwhile, Bilbao look good for a home win over Levante. Muniain, Llorente and Toquero all feel like safe bets.

I don't like the look of Real away though, even though heavily favoured in the predictions, and will be staying away from this fixture.

This is the predictions in brief: get as many Barcelona, Bilbao, and A.Madrid guys as you can. I also like Miku and Rios from Getafe. Hope they help!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Team of the week 34: Super Tono, Super Lafita!

A belated look at the top performers from last week's La Liga in fantasy terms. Zaragoza's shock defeat of Real Madrid at the Bernabeau yielded the outstanding outfield performance of the round with midfielder Angel Lafita scoring a brace and the match winner to collect 24.5 pts. Seems like the lad has the habit against Los Blancos - the only vid I could find of Lafita is of the young spaniard having another excellent game against Real for Deportivo in 2009. At a value of just 8.8, Lafita is certainly an unlikely hero of the round.

The chance of Zaragoza scoring 3 goals was given at just 1% by Speigelhalter's model and an away win was given 3% compared to Real's 87%.

szólj hozzá: Real Madrid vs Zaragoza 2-3

Racing Santander's Tono was the golden man of the round though. The goalkeeper had an astonishingly good game, racking up 8 saves, a penalty save and a clean sheet to earn a whopping 34 points as Kennedy Bakiricoglu's Racing secured a vital 2-0 win over Mallorca. All from a value of 6.5 too having scored minus points the previous two weeks.

The win moves Racing 3 pts clear of the relegation zone. A 1-0 win was predicted the most likely result by Speigelhalter's model so Tono was quite an easy pick and I rue missing out on his haul. I shyed away based on Mallorca's excellent recent form but Racing were given a 48% chance of victory compared to Mallorca's 28%. 1-0 and 1-1 were the most likely results in the Poisson distribution with 2-0 and  2-1 joint second.

The next highest scorers come from the front line. Peppe Rossi was on hand to get the match winning goal for Villarreal against Getafe and Osvaldo continued his excellent form doing likewise for Espanyol against Bilbao. Julio Baptista got a brace as Malaga scored an emphatic 3-1 win at home to Hercules - more on him in a moment.

Susaeta scored a rare goal for Bilbao in their loss to Espanyol. Cejudo and Camunas both put in excellent displays as Osasuna made sure Spiegelhalters predictions came true and beat Valencia 1-0. These guys are great for points but I never know when to pick them.

Osasuna 1 Valencia 0 by jordixana

In defence, Sevilla's defenders Fazio and Julien Escude benefitted from a straight forward 1-0 away win at Almeria while Sergio Ramos scored a rare goal to be king of the defenders for this week. And there we have it; team of the week - and not a Messi or Ronaldo or any Barcelona player in sight (although, it is absolutely necessary to mention these key words for cynical SEO purposes).

Julio Baptista has obviously been reading this blog and put in a timely display as a former EPL player making good in La Liga. "La Bestia" who had an exceedingly poor season at Arsenal during his season loan from Real Madrid in 2006/07, has been in excellent form for the struggling Malaga since arriving from Roma in the last winter transfer window. The Andalucians were recently bottom of La Liga but former Real Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini and his motley crew have done a fantastic job of stearing clear of the relegation zone in some style.

Baptista was brought to the south coast along with the new money and a wave of forgotten misfits of European football - (see Martin Demichelis and Enzo Maresca) and the former Sevilla forward had a good start at his new club. Injured after 5 games and not featuring since week 23, he has now scored four goals in three games since returning from injury against Mallorca in week 32. Overall he has a very tidy 7 in 8 games. So, hats off to "La Bestia" - it is great to see him recapture the sort of form which saw Real Madrid fork out 20million euros for the Brazilian's services 6 years ago.

Liga BBVA. Jornada 34. Todos los goles by acosart

The best starting XI would have been:

Rossi, Villarreal, 22
Baptista, Malaga, 21.5
Osvaldo, Espanyol, 21.5

Lafita, Zaragoza, 24.5
Susaeta, Bilbao, 18
Cejudo, Osasuna, 18
Camunas, Osasuna, 15

Ramos, R.Mad, 12.5
Escude, Sevilla, 10.5
Fazio, Sevilla, 10

Tono, Santander, 34 pts*

Spiegelhalter versus the world

Spiegelhater got 6 correct results and 3 exact scores. Actual results in brackets where different.

Real Madrid 2-0 Real Zaragoza (2-3)
Real Sociedad 0-2 FC Barcelona (2-1)
Deportivo La Coruña 1-1 Atlético Madrid (0-1)
Levante UD 1-0 Sporting Gijón (0-0)
Málaga CF 1-0 Hércules CF (3-1)
Racing Santander 1- 0 RCD Mallorca (2-0)
UD Almería 0-1 Sevilla FC
Villarreal CF 2-0 Getafe CF (2-1)
Osasuna 1-0 Valencia CF
RCD Espanyol 2-1 Athletic Bilbao